Rafah crossing to open for pilgrims on Sunday
Published Saturday 22/03/2014 (updated) 23/03/2014 16:36
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The general directorate of the crossings of the Gaza Strip Ministry of Interior said on Saturday that the Rafah crossing would open for two days starting Sunday to allow pilgrims headed to Saudi Arabia to travel.
The directorate said in a statement that the crossing will open on Sunday morning to allow the first group of the fifth installment of Umrah pilgrims from the Gaza Strip to travel, and to allow pilgrims from the fourth installment to return.
The directorate, however, said that it had not received any information about the possibility of Egyptian authorities opening the crossing to humanitarian cases in which citizens of the Gaza Strip seek treatment abroad.
Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing shut for the last 43 days, the directorate said.
The statement comes just over a week after Gaza child Ahmad Ammar Abu Nahl, 3, died after he was unable to travel abroad to receive medical care due to the crossing's closure.
The crossing is the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade in 2007.
There have been frequent closures of the Rafah terminal in recent months due to political unrest in Egypt and violence in the Sinai peninsula, placing an added burden on Gaza Strip residents.
After the July coup that deposed president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's army has repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels that Gazans used for years to import fuel, building materials and other goods.
The joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.